It has taken me a while to settle down from my son’s car crash.

I say this to people, well, usually I say, “I’m having a little trouble pulling myself together.” Pulling myself together, what an old thing to say, like saying it’s been a fortnight since it has rained.

My mother often had to pull herself together. Of course, that’s where I learned the phrase. She was good at it even though what she had to pull herself together about was usually herself and not something that happened to someone else. We often had to pull ourselves together about her but, looking back, that wasn’t such a bad thing. It gave me needed practice.

I know how to pull myself together.

Keep doing what you do. That’s number one. If you go off the rails, make it a short trip into the ditch. Don’t go live there.

The two men painting our house have helped me pull myself together. In the three weeks since my son’s car crash, they have scraped every inch of flaking paint off our 100-year old house and they’ve painted three of the house’s four old sides. Each holds a paint can in one hand and a brush in the other and they climb up three stories and paint under our eaves. White, a beautiful, pearly white. And then they paint the wood shingles, a dark sea foam green, and then the boards, a light frothy green.

They are silent when they come in the morning; they fetch their long ladders from our garage and start. I am surprised by this sometimes, seeing a side of a face in the bedroom window and this morning seeing one painter’s legs when I went in the kitchen for coffee. But it feels reassuring. Progress is being made even while I feel stuck in this scared place.

In a few days, the house will be finished and the painters will leave. I have no way to tell them that their steady presence steadied me.

I can tell them that they made our beloved house beautiful again. So there’s that.